1963-07-01 - It begins with a dress
Summary: Shaw delivers a gift to Emma, and they test Clea, and… are surprised by the results. Yet, an alliance is formed.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
shaw emma clea 

It's the Grigorian. It's perhaps one of the most distinctive buildings in the city, a six story hotel or apartment complex with a unique and interesting facade, a testament to the Art Nouveau styling from the turn of the century. There's a separate warehouse attached to it, where Shaw keeps his cars. That is where Clea will be directed.

The entire interior has been tork down and redone, however. It is Art Nouveau everywhere: in the golden statues to the rich wood finishing that makes each door a unique work of art— art that is somewhat abstract and somewhat curved into natural lines. The Grigorian is all white marble, solid gold and the finest, softest leather and finely polished hardwood. There are numerous servants, and even more of what is quite obviously guards. Clea is directed to an elevator, with a guard escort at her side, and is sent up to the fifth floor where Sebastian's study is found.

It's a comfortable room, lavish with luxury, the leather couches so soft they almost feel like they're still alive. The white marble floor is covered with four stylish carpets, each a unique work of art in its own right. The walls are lined with books, and before the huge windows that look out beyond to the City is Sebastian Shaw's desk. Huge, mahogany, with a chair that is big enough to look almost like a throne.

At the moment, Sebastian isn't on that throne, instead he lounges casually on one of the couches with Emma, he with his favorite 50 year old scotch, and she with a chilled white wine. He smiles at her, as a servant called up and gave warning of Clea's coming, "She is… interesting, perhaps. I am not certain if she is one of us or not." A slight nod to Emma: that's why she's here. "Plus, she brings a gift I had commissioned for you."


Something about the design of the building is obscurely pleasing to Clea. The curves, she thinks. They remind her of home in a subtle way.

She has dressed in something only somewhat fabulous herself, with purple leggings and an asymmetrical minidress over it. She is carrying SOMETHING in an opaque clothing carrier, along with a small bolt of fabric and a sewing kit (new, barely opened). Just in case.

And then: Ding! Clea steps out, eyes going round and round for a moment, taking it all in. But then her attention rests on Sebastian and the woman next to him. "Ah - Sebastian," she says, stepping forwards and holding up the as-yet-concealed dress with an air of triumph. "And that means you must be Miss Frost. You are far more beautiful in person than in your photograph!" Clea tells the latter, before telling Sebastian in a more workmanish way, "I will need to set these down for a moment…"

Mostly the fabric and the sewing kit. She explains as she opens the kit, "In case we need to make small changes." The bolt of fabric… almost seems like it's moving. There's a subtle pattern in it. Wrapped up like that, though, it is hard to distinguish in detail.


Emma lounges on one of the couches, curled against Sebastian, a chilled white wine in one of her hands. As Clea comes into the room, she sets the wine down, carefully, and leans forward. "Oh, Sebastian." she says, her psychic mind already rifling about to get a sense of things. "How sweet."

Glancing towards Clea, she smiles self-assuredly. "So are you. I can already see you have excellent taste in fashion. Please, show me."


"Good evening, Clea." Sebastian offers a warm smile over towards Clea then looks back to Emma, "We met when I was stood up for a meeting." he explains to Emma as he lifts his scotch up to take a sip, "She apparently does some work for the costumers at the Apollo and had what seemed to be quite impressive fabric." Though he makes a vague gesture with a hand: he only made a guess at that, apparently. "So I thought to challenge her."

Of course, the entire meeting was a setup as Sebastian was there on a tip that this woman may be one of their own, which he still is uncertain of. As he fluidly lies about their last encounter, Emma can drink the truth right out of his mind: but he knows she will.

"It's up to you, my dear, if she has passed this challenge or not." The look that Shaw turns to Clea at that grows less warm, and looks momentarily predatory — its something like a lion looking over its prey from its crouched position. There is a slight arch of his brow, and his expression is expectant. At her needing to set things down, he simply lifts a hand to give a casual assent: do what you need to do.


Clea's hands are normal. Her body moves normally. She unzips the dress carrier with movements that are perhaps a little anxious, a little stilted, but all of which is understandable given someone unveiling a new production. Mentally this is not the case.

Mentally, while the thought patterns are there, discernible, it is like the difference between a person and a glittering carved quartz statue /of/ a person. You could mistake one for the other from a distance. Up close, it is not similar at all. She SHINES, though it isn't clear what exactly she is emanating in the process.

She also does not seem to notice any mental attentions. "You are too kind," Clea says to her with a smile, before drawing out —

Initially it looks white, but that's just from the light shimmering off of it. The shape is easy enough to make out: sleeveless, backless, probably body-conforming. The silver cloth involved settles down a bit once the dress stops moving. It's like a miniscule trail of sequins, but as Clea holds it utterly still, the illusion of sparkling motion damps down. There is a pattern radiating out from a hexagonal space which should rest right over Emma's navel, abstract and sharing aspects of an organically-twisting fractal and magnetic lines of force. The lines start thin and thicken towards the hem and the neck.

Clea is holding her breath. Actually holding it, not just ceasing motion. She heard Sebastian quite well, and now, of course, is the test.


Emma had already pulled the details from Shaw's mind before Clea came into the room, but she finds his trust cute nevertheless. Her attention becomes focused on the odd, illuiminated nature of Clea's shining, crystalline mind, she doesn't even spot the dress at first. Something which she quickly rectifies.

"Oh my." she says. "It -is- beautiful. I'll have to buy new accessories go with it." It being more…sequined then her usual outfits, of course, her shoes and gloves wouldn't match. "How long did it take you to make it?"

Meanwhile, Emma tries to probe deeper into Clea's mind, to try and discern better who - or what - she is.


Sebastian smiles. He's pleased. He rises with a murmured 'excuse me' to Emma, and wanders over towards the side bar, "Does that mean she passed, Emma, my dear?" He takes up another glass, and pours some of Emma's chilled white wine in it, and then with a certain lazy air about him, strides back. This time he looks the dress up and down far more critically then his first glance was, "You must have a special talent for textiles, or perhaps a secret connection. I applaud you."

He turns a mildly amused grin towards Emma, "Isn't that almost as much fun as the gift? Buying the accessories? I do think I enjoy how it glitters as if made of diamonds." Nearer to Clea then, he offers the white wine out with an inviting smile. It's a congratulations, such a gesture from Shaw.


"I was inspired by Sebastian's challenge, so I did it all in a big rush, all night long," Clea says with a little laugh. "I hope I don't look too tired."

She doesn't look tired at all. The blazing latticework of Clea's mind is alien and hard to sneak into, but the surface thoughts come up quickly. The memories are hard to make complete sense of, but they're also not being guarded. She seems, in those memories, to be putting together the dress with her hands, drawing the cloth out of thin air and arranging it on a mannequin in some dingy Greenwich Village loft.

She also feels faintly guilty about dissembling, but at least there seems to be a reason for her to do so. 'What' she is doesn't come up easily. ('A person.' That is unhelpful.) 'Where' is a vista of mental gibberish like some sort of vibrant film backdrop.

Aloud, Clea says, "Oh, I hope it won't be too much of a burden - if it needs a bit of adjustment, of course, that's easy enough to do -"

The white wine is a welcome thing. Clea blinks twice closely, beams at Sebastian, and takes it, along with a rather healthy sip. For a possibly-disorienting moment Emma gets to brush against what Clea is seeing right now, though of course the scene is recognizable: Sebastian has overtones of a dark and smoky richness, for want of a better term, while Emma remains mostly mysterious to Clea.


Emma smiles. "Only a bit." she says. "Trust me, for what you've done, you look radient." She nods at the wine. "Please, enjoy it. If you enjoy it half as much as I enjoy the dress, it will be well worth it." She nods at Sebastian. "Yes…I did notice that. I do have a thing for diamonds. They go well with everything, don't they?" Well, not everything. But don't tell Emma that. "Clea, tell me - is this your primary business? Is this how you make a living?"

«She's something, dear.» Emma transmits to Sebastian. «I don't know what. She weaved the cloth out of thin air before putting the dress together. She's living in poverty. Her mind is…energetic, like a diamond filled with energy from some old radio show.»


« Something? Fascinating. » Sebastian wanders casually back over to the couch after he nods with curiosity to Emma's questions, sitting down and reclining on it with an easy confidence, his eyes now upon Clea with a long, calculating look. He sips his scotch, "I don't know anything about the fashion business, not really, only that I like to surround myself with those who have exquisite taste and an unparallelled talent. In all aspects of my life. It occurs to me, Emma, that you not have a Giovanni." She probably does, but that's not useful right now. Giovanni being the man who hand-crafts all of Sebastian's suits.

"The world is changing, Clea. Right now it's changing around us. Those of us who are talented need to look out for eachother, because if we're not careful to take the reins of our lives into our own hands, the humans will think the world belongs to them when the time comes." Sebastian says that so casually. The humans. He does not consider himself one. And he is watching Clea's reaction very, very carefully.


"Oh, yes," Clea says, with a smile, taking another sip of the wine. A rather generous one, really. But hey, artists drink heavily too. She takes in a deep breath…

As if she's remembering what diamonds are exactly. "Oh, yes; or sapphires, if you wanted a little color," she says. "But diamonds are more flexible, I think." She stays upright, clasping the glass in both hands now.

Her eyes go back to Emma then, resting on her. She's a newer sight, after all. But then she's being addressed. Emma can see clearly that 'human' is not an identity she shares, though the details remain hazy - there are memories of people who LOOK human, although there is also another person who seems to be on fire, yet content with this. Angry. Clea is afraid of that person. 'Dread' perhaps.

Clea seems to relax slightly, even so, as if a concern is answered. ('Not the Ancient One's, then' is about what she thinks then. "The Ancient One" isn't clearly identified.) "It does seem like the changes come faster and faster," Clea says, in tones of agreement. With another sip she is nearly done with the glass of wine.


-— New Activity ---

«I definately think she's in a third category, darling.» Emma sends to Shaw. «I don't know what it is, but she doesn't consider herself human. And she's not sure what we are, either. She has some fear of nonhumans called…the Ancient Ones.» A pause, while she considers.

"No, dear - I do not. And I could use one." She eyes Clea up and down again. "So, how about it - would you like to be my personal designer? The going rate is about…" She glances at Sebastian. "What, $4000 an outfit, dear? I don't keep track of the money." An absolute lie of course, but also irrelevent for the discussion at hand.

"I tend to prefer to avoid color if at all possible. I've always had such an…affinity, for diamonds, you see. Not that there's anything wrong with a sapphire, especially done right. But I'm a creature of habit."


** Make that 500


« Fascinating. I'm not sure how I feel about a third category: things were easy when it was homo superior and homo inferior. Still, if she has an ability, she is more like us then she is like them. Perhaps we will have to watch her and not allow her to … compromise our agenda, but that doesn't mean we can't make use of her. » Sebastian is so used to Emma being in his head that he simply thinks and expects she'll pluck his thoughts out. She probably has her own drawer in there.

"Oh, that sounds totally fair." Sebastian nods with a warm smile to Emma. It is, after all, how much he offered for this dress anyways. "Of course, that's after expenses. You simply must agree, Clea. I have my Giovanni, and you can be my dear Emma's Clea. We treat those who are talented very well; we treasure them and their gifts. Oh, help yourself to more wine if you like." On a special occassion he might get someone a drink, but only the once.

"Tell me, Clea, how is it you manage to weave such amazing fabrics seemingly from thin air?" He smiles nonchalantly.


Clea is shocked silent. That, at least, is brief.

"I - That would be wonderful, Miss Frost. I accept," Clea says, with haste. Her emotional reaction to having a named role like that is complicated, and on the balance, positive, though there is a faint sense, Emma might feel, that she's looking at something else. 'Freeing her to focus more on something else, too.' Aloud she says, "I see… there is much you can do with white and silver, of course."

Then she is invited to help herself to more wine, while Clea immediately does. The bottle jerks in her hand at that nonchalant question. Her wine glass almost overfills… almost! Not quite.

Clea exhales.

She looks up then, and she looks much less silly. Grave, really. First to Sebastian, then to Emma for a moment, before she asks, "Is this place warded? Do you guard it with minds of power? I cannot tell, but I will trust in your works if you have taken such measures." Then she takes a - no, it's not a sip, she drains half the glass while awaiting an answer.


*Then she is invited to help herself to more wine, which Clea immediately does.


"I ward this place against mental intrusions, dear." Emma says to Clea. "I don't know any other wards, however. I'm a telepath. I guard my dear Sebastian's mind whenever I'm in his presence, to keep out any …nasty interlopers. If you have a specific concern, I can do the same for you."


Sebastian smiles slightly at Clea's question, and adds to Emma's assurances, "And should someone manage to get through my security, the private army that guards every floor of the Grigorian, and intrude in here? They would not live long." To demonstrate he lifts the hand with his glass, and … the glass, alcohol, everything, just dissolves in a swirl of radiant energy and is… just gone. A faint fall of dust is all that remains as it falls down. But, now he needs a new drink, so he smiles ruefully and rises, wandering over towards the bar to pour himself another.


Clea exhales, her head slumping forwards. "I will trust you, Miss Frost," she tells Emma, and seems to be gathering her thoughts for several more seconds. (This can be confirmed by Emma to not be an effort to assemble a lie. In fact, she emanates a thought clearly: 'You can receive me?' It isn't really "sent," but it is easily "read.")

She then sees the glass vanish, and there is momentary wonder in her eyes.

After this, comes the confession. "I am not from your Earth. I mean you, and this world, no ill. I am here to plot against a tyrant," and now she sounds positively embarrassed, "but it is difficult going… nonetheless your world is one of the few places where such a thing could be possible, without inviting the wrath of dread Dormammu."

That's the guy who was on fire! In her memories.

Clea looks at Emma, rather abashed. "I use magic to make these things. I can show you but I do not think that I can teach you. I am not a teacher— and though your mind is one of power, the mastery of the mystic arts is not a simple thing to share."


Emma nods, slightly, to Shaw. Just enough for him to know that Clea speaks the truth. "No offense is taken, Clea. I understand." «And I receive you.» she replies to her, mentally. Reaching out, she takes another small sip of the white wine she set down earlier, before replacing it on the table. "Let us worry no further about teaching me. I have my own arts to master. Tell us more of this tyrant and why you oppose him, and what assistance you require."


Sebastian sips his scotch, his brows arching in surprise. People rarely surprise him. "You are an alien?" He doesn't sound disturbed by this, simply… inquisitive. But he nods in agreement with Emma, "We each have our talents, and we are stronger bringing them together, but we do not expect you to teach us." He purses his lips a moment, "We too struggle against tyranny, though the tyrant is not a man but a race who fear and hate us for the fact that we are the next evolution of life on this planet, and destined to inherit it as evolution demands. Our enemy would see us wiped out rather then lose their dominance. But." He lifts his hand and gestures to clea, "Yes. Tell us more. This is as safe a place as nearly any in this world."


This takes some thought. Clea apologizes meanwhile. "I had not expected to find friendly ears…"

"I do not come from the realms of your space," Clea tells Sebastian, "but another —" A pause, but she decides on the term, "Dimension. That tyrant…"

Her eyes widen at this new revelation. "Oh!" But who exactly is this enemy? Well, she's up first. "Do you mind if I sit?" Clea then says, continuing to stand as she speaks, waving the emptied wineglass for emphasis.

"The dread Dormammu has dwelt in the Dark Dimension since time immemorial. He is powerful, almost beyond reckoning… your realm's great sorcerer, the Ancient One, has held him at bay in the past. There was a battle — I don't know how long ago, but your city of London. I saw some of it. There was a great fire…" Clea breathes in, then out.

"I had hoped to find other sorcerors that shared such talent," Clea confesses. "But I fear to seek the man out directly… and I have sought to try and find even the barest idea of where to begin! Even so, I fear your peril is greater than mine. Dormammu would seek for other realms, and his plans are slow with the patience of time."

Clea holds another thought in her mind. It's slightly anxious. «Do I sound odd? The first people I met said I sounded very odd. I've just tried to imitate how everyone seems to speak.»


«You do sound odd, but keep in mind we are in a city where thousands of cultures meet, and you are speaking of issues too large for small minds to handle. Its unavoidable and you won't be judged for it. I don't think it'll come up often, either. If anyone -does- calls you out on it, just say your new to the city and came…fleeing communism, or somesuch.» Emma replies mentally to Clea.

Emma takes another sip of her wine, and glances at Sebastian. "Dormammu." she muses. "An invader from another dimension? We will, of course, help you however we can. Do you think such an invasion is likely to happen anytime soon?"


Sebastian furrows his brow, frowning. Invaders? This does not bode well. « I fear we must keep her close if only to prepare for the possibility of this threat she speaks of. This world is ours by rights and I will tolerate no competition for it. » is thought for emma.

Still, Sebastian drinks down a small swallow of his scotch: nothing ever disturbs him enough to gulp. "I'm afraid I do not know much about sorcery, personally, however… I have many contacts, the world over. I might be able to put out a feeler among the Hellfire Club's membership. Subtle, of course. I would not come out and say, 'seeking sorcerers'." But there's a gesture of assent at Clea's request to sit.

"I do not doubt this Dormammu is not perhaps a formidable foe, but if anyone thinks this world does not have great powers to defend it— they are sorely mistaken."


«Oh, yes. That's good. And that's very true,» Clea thinks back, before she takes in a deep breath.

"I doubt it," she says. "If that were to change… I would feel it; you would all feel it, I expect. There would be signs and portents. I - Yes, you're very right," Clea continues, with a confesion of relief at what Sebastian is saying in her voice.

She shifts her weight from one foot to the other. "I didn't mean to alarm you," she adds with more of that hint of apologia. "But since you pierced my deceptions…" After a beat, she then asks, "The Hellfire Club? I had thought it was only a —"

Clea struggles a bit for words. Emma can easily see the image in her mind, which is, well, pretty much exactly what you'd expect musicians, bohemians, and other disaffected people in Greenwich Village to think of the Hellfire Club. She was probably inquisitive about it, what with the whole 'hell' connection and everything.


Emma smiles. "One thing you will learn on this planet, Clea." she says. "What others think of you can be a shield or a weapon. It lets you shape their perceptions and manipulate their minds. I do not know of your dimension, but all people in ours are…set against each other. We hope to change that, to unify it. And in the end, we will protect it. But there are many who would reflextively consider that evil, even if it means that the world were destroyed. We are a very…individualistic people, and there are those that would die rather then save their own lives." She takes another sip of her wine, finishing it.

"The reputation I see in your mind - is it the sort of place where you would expect the defenders and protectors of a world to reside? Where you would look for those who are different to persecute them?" She shakes her head. "No. And that makes such a reputation a tool we can exploit. It is ruthless, as my darling will tell you. But our world must change, and we are the ones seeking to change it. Many would oppose us for it."


Sebastian inclines his head in agreement with everything Emma says, clearly entirely endorsing her words. "The Hellfire Club is a facade, a mask. People look to it and see decadence and debauchery, and to see these things is not wrong. For it is decadence. But that is not why it exists. That is not what its purpose is. That is not how it can be used." He smiles.

"The most powerful men and women in this world are drawn to the Hellfire Club out of a desire to be accepted, as if it proves they are worthy. The truth is, most are not. But by allowing them into my fold, I can redirect their excesses, I can channel their ambitions, I can mold their path." Sebastian sips from his scotch once more, "And behind closed doors, as my dear Emma says, there are those of us with power and vision who are working to change the world for the better. To free our people from the tyranny of mediocrity and mass hysteria. You have heard of Mutant Town? The persecution of the harbinger's of the future is only beginning. I will not permit it. The future belongs to its children, not the past."


Clea looks back to Emma now as she speaks. She listens - and says, vaguely, "In my home, Dormammu dominates the others so thoroughly… It surprises me to hear things like that said, even now."

When Sebastian keeps going, she says, with honesty in her voice, "I do not wholly understand what 'decadence' means. I mean that I understand it from how you use it, but…" It HAS come up a few times. Then her head tilts slightly at the mention of Mutant Town.

"Ah. The mutants. You are mutants?" she says, eyes widening as if she'd just figured out a major puzzle. "I know nothing of mutants," she decides. "Only what I have seen in the Daily Bugle. But if you are struggling against tyranny I suppose that we are natural allies, after all."

Clea is still playing catch-up on several levels.


Emma crosses her legs and considers Clea carefully. "Tell me what daily life is like in your home. Visualize it, if you can. It might help with the…cultural differences." She leaves the rest of the pitch to Sebastian - he's better at it, anyways. She's the behind the scenes one.


"I'm not sure if I am a mutant. At least, I am the oldest one I have yet met, and if I am a mutant, then it is a less recent phenomenon then some suspect. We are the evolved. We are the next stage of the advancement of life on this planet: mutant sounds unnatural to me, when what we are is the epitome of natural." Sebastian smiles slightly, watching Clea with curiosity, "We are gifted with powers— not like yours, I expect, but some awesome and terrible to behold at the same time. All that you have read in the paper is either propaganda, a lie, or confusion."

Then he hesitates, "Decadence is the belief that morals or culture weakens when exposure to excess pleasure or luxury. It is not entirely untrue, though it is not certain, either. Consider Emma and I. We are some of the wealthiest people in the world, and we devote our lives to helping save our people — and all those who, though not exactly like us, are more like us then like them. We are dedicated to this cause, heart and mind. I am a billionaire and could buy a nation and rule it as a king but I do not, why? Because wealth means nothing to me but as a lever to use to bend the world to protect my people." That said, he gestures to Emma and nods, equally curious about her question.


Clea seems to understand this immediately. "I see. If you can share the images…"

Images spool out in her head as she looks towards Sebastian again. It seems to be a sequence. Awaken - shed your old clothes - bathe, if you wish, in the waters of… something or other, the water looks strange, luminous - worship the immortal majesty of Dread Dormammu - proceed along your daily tasks - take a meal - worship Dormammu - relax briefly before resuming one's tasks -

It flickers like this; there seems to be chaos in the scheduling. There doesn't seem to be a 'day or night' schedule, either, but there is definitely a great deal more praise to Dormammu than most other exercises. That surrealist-painting of a background doesn't change either, but at least something resembling buildings appear to exist, and inside of the buildings things are at least /comprehensible/.

"I don't think it's luxury that would do THAT," Clea says, her eyes widening again. (Tellingly, Emma may also notice that Sebastian's identification as 'a billionaire' means nothing to Clea.) "You seem to be a good man to me," she then says, leaning forwards to set her glass down.


Emma takes the images from Clea's mind, and shifts them into Shaw's as she visualizes them. "He is a good man." Emma says, simply. "And when he and his rule this world, it will forever be safe from the likes of what you have had to endure."


Sebastian frowns slightly as Emma shares the images, "Abomination." is his first word, looking decidedly distasteful. The man who would be king, actually finds this level of gross… worship by this tyrant distasteful. "My brothers and sisters will be elevated to our rightful place— above and not below as we are now— for evolution has chosen us to inherit the earth, but we would never dominate eachother in such a fashion. And neither the humans. To expect such abject worship and praise is… small. Petty. If a man has true power, he knows it, and he does not need to be reminded of it, to horde it, and to make everyone else small. Instead, if a man has true power, he seeks to raise people higher, not crush them beneath his heel."


"It would give you power, if you did it, but it shows what sort of a person that you are," Clea says - setting down her wine glass - "that you would not."

She then asks Sebastian, "What do you intend to do with the others in this world? You are not a human, the same way most of the people in the street are. What will become of them?" She says it without rancor; it is curiosity. The memory doesn't quite come up but if Emma is still peeking, there is a dim sense of some great horror she saw or heard of which… well, it's not an uncommon sensation in people who went through the war in Europe, at any rate.


Emma is still broadcasting. She's useful that way. However, she remains silent and lets Sebastian answer for himself.


"I do not begrudge the humans their right to live and be happy." Sebastian shrugs slightly, and then he even laughs, "Shaw Industries— my company— employs tens of thousands of people the world over. These people are my employees, they work for me, their lives are my responsibility. Through them I am wealthy beyond measure. I couldn't run my business without humans. The world can not function without humans. There are too few of the gifted."

Sebastian shakes his head, "No, I simply will not allow the lesser evolved beings to rule me and mine. I believe the human race will eventually go extinct, but not because I make it happen— it is evolution. Every year more children will be born who are mutants, and less that are human. Eventually we will all be mutants, as life demands. Until then the only humans that are my enemies are those who attempt to oppress me. The rest may live their lives in peace, little different then they do now." Okay so he actually does intend on hastening the rise of mutant-kind at the cost of humanity, but those details don't need to be shared at this stage.


From Clea's expression, she is impressed at the mercy and patience of this scheme. The details aren't all that clear without rooting around, which might at this point be rude.

"I'm very fortunate to have met you, Sebastian," she says, her voice oddly small. Then, tilting her eyes down, "I believe I am going to have a little more wine… ah, Miss Frost, do tell me if the dress needs adjustments. Or if you have other things you would like. Now that you… know, well, there would be very few delays."


Sebastian rises, "Help yourself to the wine, but, for now, I think Emma and I have some things to discuss. I'll have a servant show you to a suite. You may use it as long as you wish— indefinitely if need be. The servants will see to any need you have, Chef Etienne is skilled beyond words. I expect you aren't familiar with our cuisine, so I suggest you tell him I asked for you to be enthralled." In his palace? Apparently he's offering her lodging. Casually. As if it were nothing. He extends a hand out to Emma to help her up, "We need to discuss an associateship, I think, my dear."


Emma stands up and takes Sebastian's hand. "Indeed." she replies, and follows Sebastian out.


A servant. A suite. A chef. Clea seems agog. "— Yes, of course; certainly. Thank you… Thank you so much!"

And she means it.

She also kills two bottles of wine, a five course dinner with three desserts, a pot of coffee and a half pack of Gauloises before finally dozing off, but that's barely a blip on the entertainment budget. Her head's still whirling. Soon enough she'll think of more, perhaps. But for now, fortune smiles on her!


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